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Incubator birds: biogeographical origins and evolution of underground nesting in megapodes (Galliformes: Megapodiidae)

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Unique amongst birds, megapodes (family Megapodiidae) have exchanged the strategy of incubating eggs with the warmth of their bodies for incubation behaviours that rely entirely on environmental heat sources. Typically, mound‐builders capture heat released from the decomposition of organic materials, while burrow‐nesters lay their eggs in geothermal or solar‐heated soils. The evolutionary path towards novel incubation behaviours has led to ecological and physiological adaptations unique to megapodes. Here, we present a species tree for all extant megapodes that settles long‐standing debates about megapode evolution: namely, their biogeographical origins and ancestral nesting behaviour.
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Keywords: *beast; Australian biogeography; BayesTraits; BioGeo BEARS; Megapodius; dispersal; fossil calibration; nesting behaviour; phylogeography

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2014

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